Ingenious, the investment group founded by celebrity accountant Patrick McKenna in 2012 offering tax-avoidance schemes for high-profile clients, is facing what is effectively a class action brought against it by 45 former Premier League football players.
The players are among of a group of 122 investors who participated in a film investment scheme touted by Ingenious between 2000 and 2013, it was reported today by The Brief, a supplement of UK newspaper the Times.
In August 2016 Ingenious was left with a £700m tax bill after a court agreed that the scheme was not a legitimate investment vehicle but one that had been conceived with the primary purpose of tax avoidance.
Proceedings have been issued by Peters & Peters, a London law firm acting for the claimants. Peters & Peters partner Jonathan Tickner told The Brief that “investors have all suffered significant financial losses as a result of these schemes being mis-sold to them as legitimate opportunities in which to invest in film or other media businesses. They were misinformed that the tax reliefs had been approved by HMRC and were permitted by law.”
Tickner refused to be drawn on which footballers are involved in this claim but high-profile clients in the past have included former Spice Girls Geri Halliwell and Melanie Chisholm, TV stars Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, singer Robbie Williams and former Big Brother presenter Davina McCall.
He pointed out that the burden of the increased liability was “particularly hard for sporting professionals whose earning potential is at its peak for only a few years”, and claimed that some of the footballers involved were facing bankruptcy as a result of the ruling against Ingenious.
In June, as reported, Ingenious signalled its intention to appeal a court decision in May that upheld the August 2016 ruling, indicating that this long-running battle between the company and HMRC is turning into a storyline arguably deserving treatment on the big screen along with so many of the films in which it has invested, including Avatar, Life of Pi and, perhaps fittingly under the circumstances, Die Hard 4.